Here's What an Amazon Exec Says About Apple's HomePod

by Linda Olson June 11, 2017, 7:55
Here's What an Amazon Exec Says About Apple's HomePod

CEO Tim Cook offered the opinion that no company had quite nailed the smart speaker yet-throwing some subtle shade at Amazon and Google there Tim?

The HomePod, though not a new technology, is interesting in two aspects: how it stacks up against Amazon and Alexa, and whether it will it deliver on its vow of "nailing" it. Cost could be an issue, because it's going to have a USA price tag of $349 (Dh1,281) - way above the Alexa-powered Amazon Echo's $180 (Dh661) and Google Home's $129 (Dh474), though Schiller insists it's better-priced than a Wi-Fi speaker-plus-smart-speaker combo, which can go as high as $700 (Dh2,571).

"Apple reinvented portable music with iPod and now HomePod will reinvent how we enjoy music wirelessly throughout our homes", Philip Schiller, senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing at Apple, said.

With so many low-cost Bluetooth speakers already on the market, I think Apple might have a hard time carving out a niche. But with a lofty price tag and stiff competition from innovative alternatives, Apple might not bowl over the market like it has so many times before.

If a government agency requests data from Google or Amazon from a voice assistant, they can point to accounts associated with the user.

The specs of the HomePod certainly reinforce this idea - the Apple-designed sub woofer inside the speaker is paired with an A8 chip (from the iPhone 6).

iPads could also place virtual furniture around the physical space, which might be handy for those redesigning their living room. This is because Apple Music can't keep up with Spotify.

With your own music it's a bit more tricky, and that might be where Apple will have the edge with many people already converting their CDs into iTunes tracks. When two HomePods are in the same room, they'll identify each other and automatically deliver stereo sound. The sound quality in this is premium and Siri focuses on music over all other smart home roles.

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The HomePod is a distillation of Apple's approach to technology, seen in everything from iOS to Siri. It will also be able to check and control home devices such as light bulbs and thermostats, adjusting settings on voice command from the user.

Siri has gone from being a competitive differentiator for Apple to almost its opposite, a product seen by many as falling behind its rivals.

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Aside from its power cable, the HomePod is a wireless device that can connect to networks over 802.11ac WiFi. There, they say Amazon's fledgling AI understand commands that would leave Siri scratching its digital head.

One of the big questions Apple hasn't yet answered is which apps and smart home products will work with the HomePod. The audio output quality is what, is being returned, and the Apple HomePod is comparable in this respect to the Sonos Play 1, which makes it superior to the low-quality utterings of the Amazon Echo, and Google Home.

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That assessment won't be put to the test until at least December, when Apple's HomePod is released. Let us know your thoughts.

Sonos has also demonstrated the ability to play well with others.


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